by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Cat get wet for various reasons, some accidental and some deliberate, as in being bathed. There are varying levels of wetness, from a light dusting of rain to fully wet to the skin.
Cats have 1, 2, or 3 layers, or coats, to their fur. The underneath layer is the fluffy undercoat, followed by the outer coat and lastly, a rain coat. Some cats may have only a light undercoat and others only an outer coat, depending on breed and genetics.
The fluffy undercoat keeps the air around the body fairly stable and helps the cat keep warm. The outer coat protects the undercoat from the outside temperature, while the rain coat helps water to slide off the fur.
For lightly wet cats, for example a little light rain, run your hands through the fur and flick off as much water as possible. This is to keep the undercoat dry. Brush or comb out the rest of the water, leaving the cat to groom herself back into shape.
When the outer coat is wetter but the undercoat is largely still dry, lightly wrap the cat in a towel and gently pat to get as much water as possible into the towel without wetting the undercoat. Change towels as necessary. Once all the surface water has been removed, using a clean towel, gently rub the cat to pull out as much of the remaining water as possible. Brush or comb out the last of the water and leave the cat to groom herself dry.
If the cat is wet to the skin, wrap him in a towel and gently massage the fur to absorb as much water as possible into the towel. Do not rub vigorously as this may pull on the skin. Change towels as necessary. He needs to be kept warm, so work quickly. When as much water as possible has been removed, place him in a carrier or similar small confined area which has been lined with towels or newspaper. Make sure the area around the carrier is warm, not hot, with a good air flow. Do not leave him alone, make sure he is warm and keep brushing his fur to help him dry.
Outside and feral cats may not be so easy to handle. The best option here is to give them a warm enclosed space filled with newspaper or towels. Make sure they have enough airflow and something to eat to keep their bodies warm. Monitor them for signs of stress and change the newspaper or towels as necessary.
Most cats are afraid of the excessive noise and the blast of hot air from a hairdryer. If one is used it must set to the lowest temperature and least airflow. Use only in short bursts while grooming. Keep away from the face, head, ears, paw pads and bum. Be careful not to scorch the fur or burn the cat.